Religion Has Been In The News


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This phrase is as true today as it was on the day religion began.  Naming that date and who did it is one of the first arguments.  And that’s the great conundrum: every monotheistic faith, group, sect, system of belief wants to say that “Our god is the only god” and with polytheists, “Our gods are the only gods.”  That verbal argument becomes physical when one group tries to convert or eliminate those that do not believe alike.

All positively focused faiths and religions are wonderful concepts in theory and principle.  It’s the human interface where things break down: interpretation and application.  Physics and art sprung to mind as similar parallels.  Both are open to subjective interpretation while physics has the sturdy bulwark of mathematics (another system of belief, strangely) to eliminate some of its subjectivity.

It’s improbable to believe, at best, that Einstein knew the end result of his formula for Special Relativity in 1905, E = mc2, would result in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.  Nor did da Vinci think his choice of medium was wrong in painting The Last Supper.  Much of Renaissance art was mathematically based on the Holy Trinity in Catholicism.

Aside from thinking, learning, creating, and procreating, one of the tasks we do much better than any species (including Chimpanzees) is kill each other.  Despite our self-appointed status as the smartest animal on Earth: we’ve even given ourselves a special spot as a sub-species of Homo sapiens, (Latin: wise man) to Homo sapiens sapiens (Latin: wise, wise man).  We truly aren’t all that wise.  Wisdom comes with age.  At a certain point, one would think we would have learned killing each other is wrong.

But, it’s not that easy.  Each generation passes on its wisdom and its ignorance.  We are also still animals – just another species.  Primal urges still exist, little changed from our predecessors: food, survival, procreation, protection.  Protection ensures the former.

Defensive protection is self-contained within.  Offensive protection is self-imposed on others.  Humans have fought each other forever.  First, over mating rights and territory/range/food.  Later, as we evolved the idea of “self” became “us”.  And there were some of “us” who sought identity in not being “them”.  By now, Louis Leakey should have beaten me to death with a femur for the over simplification.

The reasons, usually excuses, to go to war and even to total war are varied.  To rally people to war two things are essential a common, uniting belief and a common, binding foe.  The most pernicious strategy is fighting war under the guise of religion.

As an ever-learning theologian, myself (I left the Anglican Church at 10 with my parents approval, so I could play Catholic Youth Organization hockey on Sunday – so I went from the choir at St. Matthew’s to the team at St. Brigid’s), I’ve read just two of the “Great” Holy Books: The Bible and The Qur’an.  Ironically, because of the infamous 9/11, I’ve learned more about Islam than I had ever learned before.  For me, it wasn’t a knee-jerk “Know thy enemy” moment in any way, simply, “What’s that?”

As with both, it took three tries to get all the way through.  To go with the translations and transliterations from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English for one, and Arabic to Persian to Latin to English, they are excellent works of writing.  The Bible, mostly prose.  The Qur’an, mostly poetry.  In both, lots of details, cool stories, some sad moments, some happy, real page turners!

The message, greatly simplified is, “Don’t behave like a jerk.  Play well with others.”

Yes, in The Bible it does appear that God brought in a “ghost writer” to write the New Testament.  He’s much less vengeful.  It’s a joke; it’s only religion.  There’s the idiocy.  A religious joke could get you killed in the past and still today.

Most religions have a flood allegory and similar creation stories.  That Islam, Judaism, and Christianity recognize the same people (albeit in different roles), should be a unifying factor.  But, with every group of “we”, there’s a small group within that can only define themselves, more accurately satiate their wants, by killing “they”.

The legislative body, judiciary, and hopefully the people, make the laws.  Many are adopted from pre-existing traditions, conventions, customs, and beliefs: religion.  Within physics, there are theories and “laws”, but such laws are repeatable with the same results each time, unlike civil law.  Within the art world, there are various schools of thought or philosophies and styles, all testable, yet very rarely producing the same result.

Of the three, only religion has been used to kill on a massive scale.  Used in the sense of being mistreated, only trotted out for show on special needs occasions.  Used in the sense of standing for one thing, but being corrupted and violated by others for their own personal desires.

Despite that my friends, Peace!


The Hockey Player’s Prayer


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Our Fathers and Mothers who art in the stands,
Hallowed be The Game.
Thy clean ice sheet awaits
Thy will be done on ice,
As it is in dry-land training.
Give us this day our daily ice time.
And forgive us our trespasses,
But never let the opponent trespass our goalie’s crease.
And lead us not into the sin bin,
But deliver us from poor officiating.
For the time has come.
To enjoy the power, and the struggle for glory,
Forever and ever.


When the dark descends


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Everyday I get out of bed is a fantastic start (aside from assuring me I didn’t die). Over 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. In the space of three months, I went from husband, father, home owner, and senior copywriter to homeless. To misuse Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: It was the worst of times.

Sadly, when I needed them most my family and friends bailed. No, this isn’t the first time someone with mental illness has been shunned by those they love, nor the last. Far too often family members are more ego-oriented by how it reflects on them. But when you are totally alone living loses much of its lustre. The only constant was my son and ensuring I had access to him. Five trips to Family Law court proved to me that I hadn’t become useless or lacked passion or empathy.

Those five trips took three years during which I was allowed back within the family fold. They didn’t fully understand (and more than likely still don’t) “depression” – lots of buck ups, and shake it offs. But, I had a base to build on. Made the best choice of my life and sought psychiatric help. After about six sessions my Dr. (note: Do not refer to psychiatrists as “head candlers”, they don’t get the joke) diagnosed me with clinical depression – the long-lasting extra fun kind. He prescribed Paxil and Valium – panic attacks are real (I’d choose No, but in time . . .).

What used to be one-step forward and two-steps back has morphed into three-steps forward and one-step back. That doesn’t mean those dark days are gone, just far more manageable. The physical act of writing is difficult, let alone the keeping the train of thought on one track. I didn’t want to write this, but I forced myself. Similar to eating cauliflower.

Thankfully, I was born with a strong sense of tell me it can’t be done and I’ll do it: a variation of fight or flight. It has worked for me so far. Yes, in those dark times, especially at night, I’ve been suicidal. That doesn’t accomplish much other than leaving a grieving, bewildered, suffering family behind.

Clinical depression is no different than diabetes. No one chooses it. It’s simply a bio-chemical disorder in both cases. But, because “one’s in your head” bring on the stigma. To date, I’ve lost only one friend after explaining that I had clinical depression, he said, “So you’re crazy.” I tried to explain, but I decided to leave him in his ignorant bliss.

One thing I have practised is learning to ignore the idiots, and wean them out of my life without responding with a verbal onslaught. Which, as a rule, is hard for me.

For folks reading this who are coping through depression, their family, and friends, sometimes the best thing you can do is talk AND listen and repeat.


September 6th

We all have dates that are unforgettable, memorable, remarkable, and tragic.  September 6 is one of mine. It was the day my Dad died.  29 years later it still remains; the feeling of loss, the immediate attention to my Mom, and comforting loved ones (family and friends).

Seeing as my 25th birthday was one month later, there was no celebration.  Mourning is such a visceral experience.  I learned after a period of time to walk the emotional corridors of memory, and not to look in certain rooms.  Yet, two years after my Dad died, I picked up the phone to call him about a football game I was watching.  I started dialling, after punching in three numbers, I was in tears – the sob so you can’t breathe kind.  Somehow my mind reacted instinctively to make the call.

Overall, I’m not a big fan of death.  I’ve seen two ghosts – one an apparition, the other a poltergeist.  That shit’s spooky, too! On the night before his death, my Dad and I had an argument (no regrets).  In the morning as I went to work, he came in from walking the dog.  He asked, “You OK?” I said, “Yes and you?” “Fine” was his response, and he wished me a good day.

This is where the freaky day began.  Lunch would normally be a full hour away from the store, but I felt an urgent need to get back after 20 minutes.  Greeted by a staff member who was flipping out because MY Dad had been rushed to the hospital.  I calmed him down, got my knapsack, and headed out to hail a cab.  This was not my first trip to the hospital regarding my Dad.  He had a heart attack seven years earlier, and was told by the MDs, any pain rush yourself here.

Quickly hailed a cab, the moment I sat in the seat I knew my Dad was dead.  To this day I can’t fully describe the sensation, but I knew what to expect when I got to the hospital.  My brother was comforting our Mom when the attending physician who had pronounced my Dad DOA approached my Mom to ask about organ donation.  I didn’t envy the dude, but that’s why he gets the big bucks.

Amidst the grief, there was still time for humour.  After the Doctor’s third try at asking, I said, “You wanna strip him for parts.”  My brother laughed, the Doctor looked at me like I had two heads.  “Give me the forms” and I stepped into a side room and filled them out, handed them back, and assured the Doctor he’d be OK.  My brother and I went into the ER room where my Dad was and both kissed him one last time.

It’s been one of our family strengths to find humour in even the darkest places.  The arrangements at the funeral home were no different.  Mr. Joyboy – the funeral director with the cold, wet handshake – escorted my Aunty, bro’, and I down to his office.  He began with a series of questions: father’s mother’s maiden name, several more, than he asked us the date of birth. To this point my brother and I were pitching a no hitter as to answering questions.  Each question would be followed by both of us saying, “Aunty?”  He stared at both of us, so I said, “We did know the guy, just not the details.”

Mr. Joyboy in one of the most callous acts ever reminded my Aunty that there’s only one spot left in the family plot.  I held my brother back from drilling him, when my Aunty said, “That’s OK. I’m going to U of T.”  All three of us roared.  Next was arranging the time of the funeral.  It was NFL opening weekend, so my brother and I exchanged glances and both uttered, “First game?” (1pm).  Joyboy stared blankly, I explained.  He said it was booked.  “OK, second game?”

My Dad was a suit and tie guy (President of the Toronto Better Business Bureau), once home, on went the sweats and T-shirt.  We dressed him accordingly along with three bottles of Coke and a bag of licorice pipes.

I miss and still love you, Dad.

Don’t Stop And Smell The Roses

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” – Walter Hagen, 1956, American Golfer.

From hours of web and printed book scouring this is the best explanation of how “smell the flowers” morphed into “Stop and smell the roses.”  The sentiment is the same – take it easy and enjoy precious moments.  For many, including myself, that involves the act of cupping a rose and inhaling its fragrance.

Several years ago, I lived a two-minute walk from the beach, board walk, and lake.  During the days of spring/summer, the beach would be filled with sunbathers, tiny sand castle makers, volleyball players, humanity.  At night (post 2 am) the board walk would be empty and remains a great place to gather your thoughts and think.

I set out on my solitary quest, and passing the Kew Beach Lawn Bowling club grounds, I stopped to smell the roses on the north side of the property.  Planted before me was a beautiful array of fragrant roses.  Starting from east to west, I stopped and took a whiff from every flower I could.  Approaching the west end of the garden bed, I accidentally knocked over a stick with a sign on it.  Picking the sign up, I read: Warning!  Recently sprayed with pesticides.

I burst out laughing!  A sign on the east side would have been nice.  I still would have smelled them, just not as emphatically.

So, the next time you want to stop and smell the roses and savour one of life’s simple pleasures, check for signs first.


Cold Chinese Food and a Birth

Aversion of Reality

Cold Chinese food and cold pizza are two of the few foods that can be eaten either hot or cold (and cold beer, depending how much your head hurts). I love cold Chinese food. I got up one morning to fix myself a breakfast of the same. My wife was sitting on the couch (8 1/2 months pregnant), I put my bowl of breakfast before me and sat beside her.

Immediately, I saw that she was rubbing her stomach and complaining about having heart burn. I asked if she was feeling any back pain, and hesitating, she said that she had for the past three days. OK, we’re going to the hospital! She asked why, and I explained that she may be experiencing back labour. After putting my untouched breakfast back in the fridge, I called a cab. Five minutes later, we were at the local General Hospital emergency.


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In the spring and summer of 1954, two men raced with time.  One achieved a mark thought unattainable.  The other surpassed even that.  Their individual triumphs and joint legacy have withstood the test of time.  Briton Roger Bannister did it first, at Oxford.  Then Australian John Landy did it – faster still – in Turku, Finland.  They both repeated the feat in Vancouver on August 7, 1954.

Much has changed since then.  The British Empire and Commonwealth Games have become the Commonwealth Games.  Synthetic compounds have replaced cinder on running tracks.  Information travels at the speed of light.  Space is both outer and cyber.

As the 20th century passed the tape entering into the 21st, the premier foot race is the 100-metre sprint.  Yet in the 1950s, the featured track event was the mile race with the improbable goal of completing the distance in less than four minutes.

In the rarefied circle of world class runners, time is fractured, measured in split seconds.  Bannister ran into immortality by six-tenths of a second on May 6.  Landy broke this new world record on June 21 by one and four-tenths seconds.  The Miracle Mile would be their first head-to-head race since cracking the time barrier.

Featured later in Life as “The Greatest Mile Race in History,” The Miracle Mile and the ensuing ballyhoo (hype had not been created, yet) combined with television coverage of the race marked several broadcasting milestones.  The largest North American audience of the time for a track and field event tuned in.  And the 40 million were not disappointed.  Nor were 20 million radio listeners.

From the crack of the starter’s pistol, eight runners jostled in the pack.  Surging forward at the 330-yard mark, Landy took the lead.  Running easily, Bannister cruised in third.  At 660 yards, Landy had a 10-yard margin over Bannister, now in second.

Landy planned to outrun his shadow by setting a fast, early pace in hopes of tiring Bannister’s legs early and avoiding his legendary final kick.  Losing ground, Landy was just a stride ahead at the three-quarter mark.

Coming out of the final turn, Landy glanced over his left shoulder to check on Bannister’s progress.  As he did, his shadow passed him on the right with 90 yards to go.  Having given his all, Landy watched his shadow speed by.

Bannister clocked in at 3:58.8.  Landy crossed the line in 3:59.6.  The margin of victory was five yards.  It was the second time that each had run a sub-four minute mile, but it was the first time by two runners in the same race.

Bannister passes Landy: Bronze Statue in Vancouver

Enjoy footage of the actual race by following the link below:

Name change and instructions

Decided after reading more, some, ok, the first instructions about blogging and realized (much to my dismay), I should read more than just the “how to post” instructions.  Aside from the IKEA picto-grams, I always read the instructions.  I was always the youngest, so at Christmas I had to set up LED clocks/watches.

With further reading, I shall be back in full form.

Also learning how to write better, faster would help.

We’ll talk,


Cold Chinese Food and a Birth


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Cold Chinese food and cold pizza are two of the few foods that can be eaten either hot or cold (and cold beer, depending how much your head hurts). I love cold Chinese food. I got up one morning to fix myself a breakfast of the same. My wife was sitting on the couch (8 1/2 months pregnant), I put my bowl of breakfast before me and sat beside her.

Immediately, I saw that she was rubbing her stomach and complaining about having heart burn. I asked if she was feeling any back pain, and hesitating, she said that she had for the past three days. OK, we’re going to the hospital! She asked why, and I explained that she may be experiencing back labour. After putting my untouched breakfast back in the fridge, I called a cab. Five minutes later, we were at the local General Hospital emergency.

My wife was moved up to obstetric ER for some testing. Blood was drawn, off to be assessed. Meanwhile the attending physician called for an ultrasound machine to ensure the fetus was in no danger. This is back in the mid ’80s when ultrasound machines were much larger than they are now.

An attendant wheeled in the large grey box – the computer section of the ultrasound machine. Standing before the Dr., an intern, and a nurse, none of them moved towards it for nearly a minute. After two minutes of fussing over the grey box, neither of the trio of medical professionals could figure out how to turn the machine on!

Usually slow to raise my temper, I was stunned. I asked the Dr., “You don’t know how to turn it on, do you?!” With a crisp cut eye glance, she said, “Not now, Mr. Dollard, we’re busy.” Despite the rebuff, I moved toward the machine and addressed all three, “You see the big grey box, but you might notice this (I was pointing to the only section of the grey box with a bright orange switch), this button is how you turn it on.” With one click, the machine powered up. Body language alone indicted that the Dr. was embarrassed and angry. She gave me a look I’ve seen from hospital Drs. before, “You’re not supposed to know that!”

The Dr. began “wanding” my wife. She asked the intern do identify where and if the placenta was still attached to the uterine wall. After too long a time for me, I pointed on the video screen, “Right here!” Having been to all of the previous ultrasounds of our unborn child, along with the wonder of what I saw, I also asked questions, “What’s this? What’s that?” Basically, an intro into ultrasound.

Assured that neither the fetus, nor my wife were in danger, we went back home. Out came my chilled breakfast, as I literally raised the first forkful to my mouth, the phone rang. It was from the (L)East General hospital, and I was told to immediately get my wife to the hospital where her ob-gyn was located. On top of the pregnancy, she was having a pancreatitis attack – inflammation of the pancreas – which could be potentially lethal.

Back in the fridge went my breakfast, a 10-minute cab ride downtown, and my wife was admitted with primary focus on the inflammation. After several hours, the attending Dr. told me to go home, my wife was stable, and they would call me if anything changed.

Back home in a cab, I whipped my breakfast out of the fridge – at this point it was 8pm, 12 hours since our first trip to the hospital – I turned the TV on to The Toronto Maple Leaf game and as I raised my fork again, the phone rang. It was my wife, who had evidently been given a shot of morphine, slurring that not to be alarmed, but “I’m in labour.”

Back to the fridge went my as yet uneaten breakfast. Cab downtown, and off to one of the birthing rooms – essentially a hotel-like on-deck circle. My wife had gotten to the pain point of being able to crush my hand into a one-figure lump. She acceded to previous offers of an epidural, but by that time she was fully dilated, so no epidural.

After a rough two hours of her pushing, breathing, etc., she was drained physically. But she still continued . . . amazing given the pain she was in, then again pushing more might alleviate that pain with the birth of our child. Not having ever been pregnant, it was just conjecture on my part

The ob-gyn whom my wife had been seeing since the positive pregnancy test was unavailable (Passover) . So, the on-call ob-gyn was to deliver our child and ensure the health of my wife. After three hours, he turned to the nurses in the operating theatre and said dismissively, “She’s not focusing!”

Several factors played a part in my next response: my wife was in excruciating pain – unable to advocate for herself; I was still very steamed at the first hospitals lack of skill; I was also very hungry – I hadn’t had breakfast – by this time it was 4am the next day.

I had had enough. I said to the Dr., “You’ve got three choices: (1) You can call security now, so they can help you pick up your missing teeth after I punch you unconscious – I’m sure the other medical professionals in this theatre could take over while you and I are dragged out; (2) Take the punch I want to give you, and the nurses can call security; or (3) Do you’re fucking job as a professional! Don’t ever address a patient in the third-person when the patient is right in front of you. You’re choice!”

He wisely ignored me, but his demeanour towards my wife, his patient, changed dramatically. He addressed my wife, who was very cognizant, directly. As I looked at the nurses in the room, every one had a gleam in their eyes and stifled smiles and laughter. I guess they had never heard a Dr. threatened before. At 5:24:20 am, our healthy son was born. I spent the next hour or so with my wife and our son, and then one of the nurses told me I looked exhausted, and I should go home and get some rest.

With cabs lined up outside the hospital, a ride home was no problem. Once home, the enormity of the day hit me. We’re parents! I got my day-old breakfast out again – now 8am the next day – put a fork in it, and without getting a forkful of food, I fell asleep for approximately 6 hours. When I awoke, I wanted pizza and a beer.